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I'm Adrien. Welcome to The Pourquoi Pas, the weekly newsletter for the inherently curious. As usual, you can hit Reply to chat, sign up by following this linkor help The Pourquoi Pas grow by using the icons below.

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Quote of the week
 
Get back to work. But first check out the cat Gif at the end of the article.
The Next Big Things In Tech (Part 1)
Technology being by design a fleeting concept, journalists, entrepreneurs and investors are endlessly looking to make big bucks by noticing and investing in the famed Next Big Thing. So much so that they sometimes lose their head in the process and spew out very silly things. This happy crowd of predictors often fails to see the irony of using history, which is at heart the study of surprises and changes, as a guide to the future. In doing so, they over-rely on past data as a signal to future conditions in a field where innovation and change is the lifeblood of progress.  

Yet readers still eat it up because we as a people like the feeling of predictability and clean narratives. In an effort to get some common sense up in here, below are my predictions for the future of tech, from the boring stuff everyone already talks about to the seemingly weird and unlikely, which is where I'd put my money. 
The  boring, expected stuff
A.I / Machine Learning / Deep (Reinforcement) Learning

A.I is often over-estimated, yet definitely IS disruptive. The issue with it is the use of a blanket term for a wide variety of concepts. Machine learning, for example, is very much a thing of the present and is often what is referred to when using the catch-all term “A.I”, but has limited use compared to our dreams of General Artificial Intelligence, which are best left to SciFi writers. The middle ground we should be interested in is in fact Deep Reinforcement Learning, which goes beyond statistics, yet remain highly specialized. It will create softwares that not only count and cross-reference, but also SEE the world, which will change the way we interact with it.

Blockchain
Blockchain is essentially a global ledger capable of automatically recording and verifying a high volume of digital transactions, regardless of location. Its decentralized form means that it has the potential to alter most industries as trust becomes a rare commodity: automating money is old news, but automating trust is BIG business, which explains the very real developments amid the hype. See also: permissioned vs permissionless ledgers.

Cryptocurrencies / ICOs
Ahahaha *breathes in* hahahaha

Commercial UAVs / Drones
Though we are still developing the platforms upon which drones will rely to zip through the skies to deliver goods straight to our doors or offices, rest assured that the technology will in many ways change how we exchange goods. Furthermore, with the decreasing costs of last-mile-delivery, Amazon is likely yet again increase its margins, allowing it to continue on its path towards world domination. Finally, one often-forgotten fact is that drones are not necessarily bound by the air: they could also massively decrease costs by carrying goods at sea, or revolutionize space exploration.

Robotics / Cobotics
Robotics may yet have some interesting potential for everyday life, but most of its potential still currently lies in manufacturing. The fact that the term "Cobot" has begun to be used shows how our expectations have adapted to reality: robotics merely assists us in our tasks as co-creators, nothing more.  Robots capable of working alongside humans, delivering room service or working in warehouses, will allow organizations to assist, replace or redeploy human workers to more value-adding tasks. Remember: the washing-machine is also a robot which automated washing and liberated women from many time-consuming chores, allowing many to study or work
Voice
As an entirely new platform, voice is potentially the biggest new way to work, track or advertise digitally since the touchscreen. Verbally interacting with computers is not new per say, yet conversational user interface technology is expected to change the world in no small ways, though it would require computers' natural language processing to massively move forward. Only then will conversational platforms drive a paradigm shift in which the burden of translating intent shifts from user to computer, getting us closer to a SciFi future.

Chatbots
Wait... is that still a thing?

The pretty ok stuff
A.I Cloud Services / Platform-as-a-service / Data-as-a-service
Though machine learning is not exactly new, its democratization through platforms will be no less life-changing for millions, if not billions, much as the cloud has been. Allowing anyone to create its own basic A.I and train it on freely available data will lead to an explosion of new products (the app store comes to mind as a good example of data-as-a-service's potential).

Augmented / Artificial / Virtual Reality
Some of those terms are often used interchangeably but are in fact very different: Though virtual reality has seen a lot of hype yet few concrete applications, augmented reality shows great potential as an extension to digital platforms: every wall can be a screen! Beyond that, imagine building IKEA furniture using schematics and instructions appearing inside glasses. Or recognising patterns by mixing machine learning and AR. The list goes on...

Autonomous Vehicules
If you change the car, you change the very way cities are designed, it's that simple. However, today’s autonomous vehicle are not capable of driving safely on their own (as per this handy guide). Continued advancements in sensing, imaging and mapping — as well as AI and computing are needed to reach higher levels of automation. We should as such dampen our excitement and concentrate on semi-autonomous vehicles which could be used to transport goods faster and with more accuracy. They could reduce accidents, improve traffic, and even slow urbanization as people can use travel time and won’t need to live near city centers. I'd stick to my crowded metro for now, though. 
Connected Home 
This change has already begun, and will soon be implemented throughout the western world. I’m talking about lightbulbs controlled by smartphones, fridge which order for you when you’re low on milk, and self-adjusting thermostats. The crazy thing about this is that it sounds pretty damn dull, when 5 years ago I’d have been called a hack for merely discussing it. Smart fabrics are also in the work with plans to integrate the tech to the wider smart home ecosystem, but the hardware (See Carbon Nanotubes) still needs some research. 

5G
Though 5G still has many issues ahead, it is likely to be the platform upon which much of the future is built. We’re talking 10x speed, 10x connection density and 100x network efficiency, all of which is needed to feed most of the above. The ultra-low latency and ultra-dense deployment to massive mobile data will also grant great competitive advantages to those willing to embrace it. Most CEOs should know or be asking about their local infrastructures' stages of development. 
All hail 5G.

Quantum computing
Bit of an oddball, that one. Quantum computers will be capable of feats of computation inconceivable with today’s machines, but we haven’t yet figured out what we might do with those powers. One likely and enticing possibility: precisely designing molecules to revolutionise chemistry and medicine as we know it. Though general-purpose quantum computers will probably never be realized, the technology indeed holds great potential in narrow, defined areas. 

Human Augmentation
Fun! Excitement! exoskeletons! There are now countless ways for us to augment our bodies, some as wince-worthy as implanting a chip under your skin or as simple as strapping on some computerized knee braces. Human augmentation has the potential to use technology to enhance bodies and minds, but also raises ethical and legal questions, so the jury is still out on the democratisation of some of these tools.


That's 14 out of 32! See you next week for the others. It gets much more interesting from here onward as we'll discuss technologies you've likely never heard or thought of.
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Bonus round
Bonus #1: Animated guide to quantum computing
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Thank you for reading through. 
Have a kitten Gif.
A lil' piece of wholesomeness
The Pourquoi Pas lives through its readers. If you liked this newsletter, forward it to a friend and/or send me your reactions, whimsical thoughts or cocktail recipes by hitting Reply.
 
Have a great week.
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